Record of the day: Olivier Messiaen, "Turangalîla-Symphonie"

Record of the day: Olivier Messiaen, “Turangalîla-Symphonie”

Olivier Messiaen
Turangalîla-Symphonie (Cd DG 431781-2)

A monumental piece of the 20th century, the Turangalîla-Symphonie is one of the best-known works by the French composer Olivier Messiaen, with frequent performances all over the world (much less in Italy, but that's no wonder).
It is an immense score, in terms of size and the number of performers required. An hour and twenty minutes of very colorful music, tonally intoxicating thanks to the skill with which Messiaen mixes familiar colors in a new way and invents new ones.

In addition to a large number of wind instruments and percussion instruments, there are two solo instruments, respectively Pianoforte and Onde Martenot (one of the first electronic keyboard instruments, forerunner of the synthesizer) engaged in parts of transcendental virtuosity.
Messiaen is a musician naturally given to excess, a true visionary who has transfigured the modern orchestra by breaking it into a thousand different chromatic refractions rich in sonic sensuality. The score is organized in a very complex way using rhythms derived from the Hindu, Indian and African traditions, organized by Messiaen according to rigid mathematical principles.

It is not necessary to know the design work behind the work to appreciate it, rather it is better to abandon oneself to the formidable sound power that the author has poured into it: the title of the Symphony, in Sanskrit, has multiple meanings among which, explains Messiaen, «Song of joy and love, Rhythm, Life, Death, Movement. A superhuman, overflowing, blinding, unlimited joy.”
Mystical and carnal at the same time, Messiaen creates an entire sonic universe with an unmistakable personality; statuesque musical figures alternate with swirling figurations of strings and woodwind counterpointed by explosive percussive interventions. Moments bordering on stasis are followed by dances of unbridled Dionysian power that superimpose color on color in an almost orgiastic dimension.

Myung-Whun Chung, at the head of the Bastille Orchestra, worked in collaboration with Messiaen to prepare this recording edition (which the author himself considers definitive). Every detail is taken care of down to the last detail, the recording wonderfully conveys the rainbow of sounds that Messiaen's imagination is able to create and the final result is exciting, to be recommended to everyone.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.